NEW YORK - Police in Washington could have avoided shooting dead a woman pursued by officers in a car chase that led to the lockdown of the Capitol this week, the driver's sister, former New York police sergeant Valarie Carey, said late on Friday.
The family of Miriam Carey, whose one-year-old daughter Erica was in the car with her during the encounter with police on Thursday, has said she suffered from post-partum depression.
Carey, 34, a resident of Stamford, Connecticut, tried to drive her black Infiniti coupe through a barrier near the White House, then sped toward Capitol Hill, leading police on a high-speed chase that ended when her car got stuck on a median and police shot her.
"My sister could have been any person traveling in our capital," Valarie Carey told reporters outside her Brooklyn home. "Deadly physical force was not the ultimate recourse and it didn't have to be."
The chase and shooting came at a time of high political tension in the US capital with Congress debating how to resolve the shutdown of the federal government. The Capitol was locked down after the shots were fired.
In another incident that caused alarm in Washington, a man appeared to have set himself on fire at the National Mall on Friday. He was listed in critical condition at a hospital.
Law enforcement sources said Carey did not shoot a gun and there was no indication she had one.
"I'm more than certain that there was no need for a gun to be used (by police) when there was no gunfire coming from the vehicle," Valarie Carey said. "I don't know how their protocols are in D.C., but I do know how they are in New York City."
Representatives from the Capitol Police and the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department could not be reached for comment early on Saturday.